Pranksters

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Alex Jones: Post-Reality Rodeo Clown?

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Spin, You Decide

Talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began his career as an Austin eccentric, known for his associations with comedian Joe Rogan and filmmaker Richard Linklater. His paleoconservative media profile has risen steadily since the election of Barack Obama – he’s now better known for egging on Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, describing the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre as “crisis actors,” and throwing his bulk behind the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, he’s engaged in a vicious custody battle, and his lawyers are suggesting that he’s not an increasingly unhinged paranoid maniac, but a performance artist playing a character.

Blogger Ken White adds some insight on the importance of this story.


“Alex Jones Says He’s A Performance Artist. Surprisingly, Actual Performance Artists Agree.”
by Priscilla Frank
The Huffington Post
April 19, 2017

Following his 2015 divorce, far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is embroiled in an ugly and somewhat bizarre custody battle.

In response to his ex-wife’s claims that the InfoWars founder and Pizzagate controversy propagator is “not a stable person” ― and therefore should not receive custody of their children ― Jones is arguing that his publicly jacked-up, trumped-up, vitriolic rants are merely instances of “performance art.”

Jones’ lawyer Randall Wilhite outlined the novel defense, telling those present at a recent pretrial hearing that Jones’ InfoWars persona does not reflect who he is as a person. “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said. “He is a performance artist.”

Jones himself made a similar claim in early April while facing criticism ― and potential criminal proceedings ― after calling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) an “archetypal cocksucker” and threatening in an expletive-laden rant to “beat [his] goddamn ass.” Jones later posted a follow-up video describing the comments as “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance, as I do in my rants, which I admit I do, as a form of art.”

Jones’ most famed “performances” to date include calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job, claiming the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was “completely fake with actors,” and suggesting that the American government is “encouraging homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.” Is it possible that Jones has been putting on some sort of persona to stir up controversy and garner public attention? Of course. It is unlikely, however, and ultimately dangerous, that Jones’ approximately 2 million listeners ― including his most famed fan, President Donald Trump ― were all aware that Jones’ red-faced tirades are for show.

In calling himself a performance artist, Jones is referencing a controversial live art tradition with roots in the 1950s and ‘60s, involving movements like Gutai and Fluxus and individuals like Marina Abramović and Vito Acconci. One of the earliest artists recognized for her performances is Carolee Schneemann, who was recently awarded the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. In one of her most iconic performances, 1975’s “Interior Scroll,” Schneemann stood nude on a table, painted her body with mud, and extracted a scroll from her vagina, from which she proceeded to read.

When asked about Jones’ performance art defense, Schneemann responded swiftly: “I think it’s all a load of crap,” she told The Huffington Post. But ultimately, any attempts to strictly classify what is or is not performance art, she clarified, are futile. Read more.

Yahoo News covers NYC’s 32nd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

New York City’s 32nd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade
Yahoo News
April 1, 2017

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty ImagesThe theme for this years parade is MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN! The Grand Marshall will be a Donald Trump look-alike. The full parade was actually a April Fools’ prank. During the event, masked activists marched with a hand-pulled “float” featuring a likeness of Donald Trump sitting in an outhouse. (Getty)

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Click here for more photos

NYC’s 32nd Annual April Fools Day Parade in Photos

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The World of the Prank

It was huge. Tremendous turnout. Thousands of people. Bigger than the Obama Inauguration! These images speak for themselves…


(more…)

April Fools 2017: This Year in Branded Pranks

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire, The World of the Prank

April Fool’s Day brings a deluge of cleverness. For journalists covering the arts, entertainment, business, culture, or predictably tech (populated as it is by Stanford and MIT wiseacres), tracking the cuteness can be overwhelming.

At The Verge, Elizabeth Lopatto turns in a thoughtful rant on “the 500-year history of a troll holiday,” including an interview with Alex Boese of the Museum of Hoaxes, that explores why some of us are not big fans of 4/1.

Nevertheless, there’s plenty of fun to be had. The enormous display of creativity and break from the standard shilling grind can be inspiring. And a few marketing stunts shine through with transgressive humor, playful conviviality, or something genuinely important to say. (That, or they’re just joyously dumb.)

Here were a few that stood out in 2017.

MetBnB

The Metropolitan Museum’s fictitious partnership with the “sharing economy” startup was a lighthearted means of drawing attention to serious commercialization and fundraising challenges in the art world. (more…)

Joey Skaggs Promises Satirical Provocation for Donald Trump

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

As our founder prepares for his April Fools’ Day Parade Trumpathon, he gives us a look behind the scenes.


“Prankster Behind NYC April Fools’ Day Parade Says This Year’s Event Will Mock Donald Trump”
by Jillian Kay Melchior
Heat Street
March 28, 2017

For more than three decades, prankster Joey Skaggs has rejoiced in ensnaring the national media into covering fake news of his own invention. But this April Fools’ Day, he insists he’s absolutely serious about mocking Donald Trump.

“You can certainly accuse me of being the Boy Who Cried Wolf, given my past track record with this parade,” Skaggs told Heat Street. Indeed, for the past 31 years, Skaggs has sent out elaborate news releases announcing not only the April Fools’ Day Parade schedule and route but also describing floats—all fake, all for a parade that doesn’t actually happen.

“But the reality of this April Fools’ Day makes it absolutely essential that I finally show up along with, hopefully, hoards of Donald Trump look-alikes,” Skaggs said, adding that he’s hoping to earn a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest gathering of Donald Trump look-alikes.

For what it’s worth, we called the Guinness Book of World records, which confirmed there is an open application under Skaggs’ name. “But the category that he’s applying for is a new category, so the category would have to be accepted by the records team first, before he could attempt a record,” said spokeswoman Sofia Rocher. She said it’s not yet clear whether they’ll have an answer for Skaggs by April 1.

New York City requires a permit from the Police Commissioner for any parade. Skaggs says he has not gotten one, adding, “We’ve gone 32 years without a permit.” Read more.

Not #FakeNews, But an Incredible Simulation

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, The World of the Prank

A new video game brings your republic-wrecking fantasies to life.


If you were for some reason dying to play a video game about fake news, it’s here now
by Marissa Wenzke
Mashable
March 27, 2017

This fake news simulator is the depressing video game America deserves

It’s something that’s come to be reviled, the very thing that may have cost America a presidential election — fake news.

And the horrible phenomenon that’s been called out by everyone from former President Barack Obama to Apple CEO Tim Cook now has a video game all about it.

Yes, you can actually climb inside the minds of real-life humans who distribute lies for money. Fake It to Make It describes itself as “a social impact game about fake news.”

By that definition, it’s less a celebration of fake news and more a socially conscious dissection of it. Well, that’s at least what it’s intended to be, as its creator Amanda Warner explains.

“I think that better understanding how and why we are manipulated by others, for profit or power, is worthwhile knowledge to have,” she told The Verge.

The game takes you through a journey that mirrors the stories of real-life fake news creators. For instance, it starts by asking you to choose a purchase you want to make, like a $1,000 used car or $400 for a deposit on an apartment (deals we think questionably exist IRL). Read more.


In a Troubled Country, a Novelty Candidate Gains a Following

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

In the run-up to Serbia’s April 2nd presidential election, flamboyant joke candidate Luka Maksimovic has piqued the interest of disillusioned voters eager to shake up the system. On the international stage, Maksimovic is unique in that a) he displays some self-awareness, and b) he probably won’t win.


“Parody politician is new star in Serbia’s presidential race”
by Jovana Gec
AP
March 27. 2017

Ahead of Serbia’s presidential election on Sunday, a political parody has emerged as a true star.

His real name is Luka Maksimovic, but the 25-year-old student bidding to become the Balkan country’s next leader has won fame — and public support — appearing as a grossly exaggerated politician, complete with a white suit, oversized jewelry and a man bun.

Campaigning as a sleazy, loud character who makes wild promises and whose triumph is foretold by fortune tellers, Maksimovic has won over many in crisis-stricken Serbia, which has been plagued by political corruption and is eager for new faces and ideas.

Opinion polls have predicted that Maksimovic could win around 11 percent of the vote Sunday, trailing the powerful populist Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic but surpassing several other established candidates.

This, analysts say, already is a huge success for a newcomer with scarce political experience, no infrastructure and slim funds.

“It’s just my charisma!” the communications student joked in an interview with The Associated Press. “Citizens are so anxious to see me that I must sneak in unannounced to avoid huge crowds descending on me!” Read more.


An Off-the-wall Immodest Proposal

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Part of a proud tradition of construction-themed pranks, these morbid Canadian satirists have got a smoking hot deal for Donald Trump.


“Canadians’ Satirical Border Wall ‘Solution’ Designed to Drive Trump Up the Wall”
by Jim Brunner
Seattle Times
March 17, 2017

No, dead Nazi Albert Speer is not really bidding to build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. But a group of Canadian pranksters who ‘figured some kind of parody submission was in order’ has created and submitted one in Speer’s name.

More than 700 businesses have signed up for possible work on President Donald Trump’s proposed “big, beautiful” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But not everyone registering for the early-stage federal bidding process is serious. Some are looking to satirize or protest the controversial project.

Take “Trump Wall Solutions,” a firm ostensibly based in Toronto, Canada, which has signed up as an “interested vendor” in response to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) online solicitation.

The company’s listed principal? That would be Albert Speer, the Nazi war criminal who was Adolf Hitler’s personal architect. Speer, who designed the infamous Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg, died in 1981.

Trump Wall Solutions is actually a small group of Canadian pranksters mortified by the Trump administration and the border-wall plan, according to two men involved in the project who spoke with The Seattle Times by phone Friday.

“We just thought it was a bit absurd, this whole wall proposal. We figured some kind of parody submission was in order,” said Matt, one of the organizers, who said he works in architecture in Toronto. Read more.


Banksy Enters the Travel Business

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art, The World of the Prank

The often-imitated, never-duplicated, street art legend Banksy opens The Walled-off Hotel in Bethlehem.


“Banksy Opens Dystopian Hotel Near Bethlehem Separation Wall”
by Tara John
Time
March 3, 2017

Graffiti artist Banksy has opened a new inn in Bethlehem, located right by the barrier wall that separates Palestinian territories from Israel.

The ten-roomed Walled-off Hotel opened on Friday and is littered with the anonymous artist’s work. As the Guardian reports, Banksy’s team hopes the hotel will become a source of revenue for the town — whose economy has languished due strict Israeli controls. The rooms will be open for bookings on its website later in March, according to the Guardian.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Banksy reportedly said: “Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before Trump made it cool.”

The hotel was built in secrecy over the past 14 months and was converted from a pottery workshop. Styled to look like to “an English gentlemen’s club from colonial times,” the Walled-off Hotel hopes to spark dialogue, evidenced through its choice of artwork: Every room has what is touted as the “worst view in the world,” which is the 8-meter high concrete barrier.

There are also statues chocking on teargas, a painting of Jesus with a laser target on his forehead, a trophy wall of security cameras and an exhibition dedicated to the wall, that features art made by Israelis and Palestinians. Read the whole article here.


Trump’s Security Detail Unimpressed With Ballsy Golf Course Stunt

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Noted British prankster Simon Brodkin hits Donald Trump where it hurts, and columnist Pat Kane reflects. (Feel free to share your own testicular puns through social media.)


“Why Serious Stuff Still Demands a Sense of Humour”
by Pat Kane
The National
February 4, 2017

So if you’re going to prank Donald Trump by chucking swastika-covered golfballs at him, as he opens one of his tremendous courses, you should do it at Trump Turnberry.

According to the comedian Simon Brodkin, whose stage name is Lee Nelson and who perpetrated said stunt last June, he was slumped in custody when a Scottish sergeant noted: “You’re that guy”.

“In that moment I realised I had an ally,” recalled Brodkin this week. “They loosened the cuffs so the blood went back to my fingers and asked if I wanted some Lucozade. Big love for the Scottish police.”

In next week’s Channel Four documentary Britain’s Greatest Hoaxer, Brodkin also relates that the Scottish police refused to let Trump’s secret service people interview him. Instead they sped him to the nearest airport and told him to “get the hell out of the country”.

As the furore rises around Trump’s potential state visit, the question of how modern dissent and protest is most effectively expressed comes to the fore. On this occasion, should it be a dignified boycott by political leaders (as all the Scottish political leaders did last June), and a protest action mutually agreed between activists and police? Or is Brodkin’s kind of hoax the best way to get an oppositional message under the plates of the Great Narcissist?

Watching the enthusiastic Brodkin’s preparations for his hoax – involving disguise, costume (a Trump Turnberry sweatshirt), bags hidden under hotel beds and the ludicrously easy detection of the Sunbed God’s itinerary – you imagine this kind of prank will never be achievable again.

The scene where his goons are scrabbling around the grass, filling red Trump caps with Nazi-balls, is inordinately pleasing. But no doubt the full apparatus – human and technological – of American and British national security will be sweeping and detecting every clump of cells that gets anywhere near the man-baby. Read more.


Improv Everywhere: Random Parade Leader

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


Random Parade Leader Wanted

Improv Everywhere: Random Parade

For our latest mission, a woman in a marching band uniform stands on the sidewalk with a sign that reads “Parade Leader Wanted.” When a stranger agrees to help out, a huge parade led by a marching band emerges from around the corner and follows him wherever he goes. The band plays “Jingle Bells” and is followed by a cast of characters that includes two yetis, Frosty the Snowman, and two guys holding giant flags that read “Random Parade.”

This mission was made possible by Caring Crowd, a crowd-funding platform where people come together to fund global health projects.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

Cards Against Humanity Digs a Black Friday Hole

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

The team at Cards Against Humanity has a history of irreverent Black Friday stunts – we chatted with spokesman Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” in 2014. 2016’s celebration involved a lot of money, a large hole, and that was pretty much it.


“Cards Against Humanity Threw $100,000 Into a Giant Hole Over Thanksgiving Weekend”
by Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post
November 28, 2016

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Cards Against Humanity offered its own Black Friday special: Send them money, and they’ll use it to dig a hole.

“The holidays are here, and everything in America is going really well,” the company wrote on its Holiday Hole website. “To celebrate Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth.”

The website featured a live camera of the hole being dug as a ticker listed the donations as they came in, telethon-style.

The company raised just over $100,000, which was enough to keep the digging operation going until Sunday morning ― and from the videos posted online, it looks like they dug themselves quite a hole:

The FAQ on the website offers the company’s trademark humor:

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?
Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?
No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?
You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

Cards Against Humanity is known for going against the flow on Black Friday.

Last year, they sold nothing at all ― for $5 a pop ― and earned more than $70,000. The year before that, they sold poop.


Did Fake News Skew the Presidential Election?

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Prank News, Pranksters

Among the myriad of influences on the presidential election results, a prominent and pervasive force has been fake news, propagated by unscrupulous merchants seeking traffic via social media. Here’s a quasi-confession of one such voice.

Here also, from NYMag.com is “An Extremely Helpful List of Fake and Misleading News Sites to Watch Out For“.


Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’
by Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 17, 2016

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What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they’re all make-believe — and invented by the same man.

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he’s British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. “South Park” lawsuit last year.

But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.

In light of concerns that stories like Horner’s may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and — ahem — bad language. ” target=”_blank”>Read more

Improv Everywhere: Declare Your Love

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


Declare Your Love

share_the_love

For our latest mission, we constructed a custom wooden lectern with a megaphone holster and an attached sign that read, “Declare Your Love.” The lectern was placed at the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street at the entrance to Bryant Park and then left alone. We wanted to see what would happen if New Yorkers were given the opportunity to amplify their voices and declare their love.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

More from Improv Everywhere:

We Are Movie Geeks Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

SLIFF 2016 Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK
by Tom Stockman
We Are Movie Geeks
November 2, 2016

artoftheprankatsliff

ART OF THE PRANK offers a hilarious and provocative profile of New York artist Joey Skaggs, the godfather of the media hoax. Famed for such media fictions as the Celebrity Sperm Bank, the Cathouse for Dogs, the Fat Squad, and the Portofess (a mobile confessional booth) — all reported as fact by reputable journalists — the prankster qualifies as one of America’s greatest living satirists. Chronicling the most demanding hoax of Skaggs’ career, filmmaker Andrea Marini provides privileged access to the thoughts and actions of this most unconventional man, following the evolution of an artist who has dedicated his life to seeking social change by relentlessly challenging the status quo. With unprecedented access to Skaggs and his archives, the documentary reveals the man behind the curtain, interweaving his current unfolding hoax with a look behind the scenes at some of his classic performance pieces. The New York Observer calls the film “an upbeat summary of decades of mischief” and “an intimate portrait of an earnest man earnestly engaged in the business of tomfoolery.”

Joey Skaggs took the time to talk to We Are Movie Geeks about ART OF THE PRANK.